[OPE-L:1966] value-form theories

C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 18:26:13 +0000

This is a reply to Fred's 1935
>1. Chris, I am of course very glad that you agree with me that the
>equation P = mL expresses Marx's theory of the relation between abstract
>labor and prices, i.e. that abstract labor exists as a separate entity and
>determines prices.
>It seems to me that this is a significant difference between you and R-W,
>who seem to deny that abstract labor exists as a separate entity and
>determines prices, in the sense of the above equation. Hence, in this
>case, the label "value-form" is misleading, in that it obscures a
>fundamental difference between these two versions of the "value-form"

No more misleading than 'Marxist'.
It is true that some value form theorists think prices are contingnet and
(wrongly equating science with numbers) conclude there is no possibility of
economic science. But I never saw R&W say that. Rather on p.63 I read
"Labour time creates value". This suggests to me there is an order of
quantitative determination implicit in their work.
When accepting the equation I did not say 'abstract labour' exists
separately. Like Andy I am uncomfortable with that. One thing is surely
clear. AL cannot have an entirely separate existence from the value form if
the qualifcation 'abstract' is understood as indicating the labour is given
already value formed qualitatively, and likewise 'socially necesary' is
quantitatively relevant only because of value relations.. It is the value
form that determines how to 'take' labour and how to count it.
Because of this close connection it is possible to get wires crossed. Some
people measure v in hours (an apparent absurdity: how can a property/power
have a measure appropriate to a process? At best one could say v represents
the result of x hrs labour - thus this bale of cotton embodies 10 hours
worth of spinning) while R&W measure labour in money (again absurd unless
it means this labour is the source of value added).
Surely it is clearer to measure labour in hours and value in money.
But people sense that there is some closer connection than that of external
causality. This is probably why Marx used 'substance' talk and spoke of
immanent measure. Rubin reproves him for this last, pointing out that this
concept is unknown to science, and reading it, following Bauer, as a
reference to a causal relation (like fred?).
But it might mean value has no actuality except as it mediates itself in
labour and therewith is consubstantial with it.
Chris A.

P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until next summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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